By Corey Quinto:
Based on the teleplay by Reginald Rose, this 1957 courtroom classic centers on twelve male jurors who must come to a verdict that will determine the fate of a eighteen year old boy from the slums who is about to face the death penalty for stabbing his father to death. During the closing argument the jurors discover that their final decision may not be the answer they initially thought it was going to be. The film was designed to show the difficulties a juror can face in reaching a unanimous decision. Director Sidney Lumet makes a fantastic directorial debut by giving a real, in depth look on how the jury reaches a final verdict behind closes doors and the stress that they face in doing so. This movie has become an icon in the courtroom genre and it’ the film that would kick off Sidney Lumet’s fifty years in the film business. It’s all thanks to the strong storytelling, elements of film noir, and incredible performances from acting legends such as Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, and Jack Warden.
Twelve Angry Men was shot and completed in twenty-one days with a budget of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. In addition, it was considered a box office disappointment. The movie was filmed on location at the New York County Courthouse located at Sixty Centre Street in Manhattan. Lumet, who was a well-known director of photography, used specific camera shots and angels to showcase his techniques in cinematography to emphasize his intentions.
This film had quite an influence on many people. It is still held in high regard today as an American classic from the viewpoints of both critical and popular. One particular woman, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has gone on record stating that after viewing the movie it greatly inspired her to pursue a degree in law. In addition, she often used quotes from the film as a point of reference to teach her law students.
Twelve Angry Men was nominated for three Academy Awards including, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards because Twelve Angry Men came up short in all three categories, losing to The Bridge on the River Kwai. It did, however, win the Golden Bear award at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival.